Category Archives: PvP

Favorite Overwatch Heroes!

I’m playing too much Overwatch which is a bit like eating too much Mexican food, delicious but occasionally frustrating. 38 levels later, my personal hero statistics currently look like this:

Favorite Overwatch Heroes

I love Pharah, she is my desert goddess of the skies. I love Symmetra and Lucio too, both of which are insanely fun to play and have had me roar with laughter and glee so many times. Just how much better can it get?? What Overwatch has done lately is remind me of my PvP soul – it’s always been there and strong, if we care to believe gamer profiling tests anyway, but I feel it’s been slumbering for a time while I was busy exploring MMORPGs with Bilbo’s walking stick.

Overwatch has unleashed the beast. I take more joy from my enemy’s pitiful cries than is probably healthy. Oh well!

The different heroes are really where all of Blizzard’s creative genius has gone into; there’s not a single one that feels generic or sameish and doesn’t come with fun little tricks, voice lines and special interactions. For all its straightforward and simple gameplay, Overwatch piles on the charisma (you can just feel there is so much backstory material) and the seemingly endless combinations (there are in fact 230’230) you can play, counter and adapt to. The quick and brutal matches are some of the most carefree mayhem I’ve enjoyed in a long time but they have the potential of being jarring too, depending on how your team is playing. Still, a close match is a good match and it’s refreshing to play a game again that teaches you how to lose.

My personal Overwatch Hero Roster

So heroes! I’ve started expanding my active heroes in Overwatch to be able to switch according to team setup and map progress. I feel it’s important to know at least one hero per role really well but I’d like to play most of them eventually. Every time I start a new class, it gets really fun after a while, I suspect they all are. For the time being, I’d rank all 21 characters accordingly:

A) Heroes I feel confident playing

1. Lucio
2. Pharah
3. Symmetra
4. Mercy
5. Torbjörn

B) Heroes I’d like to get better at

6. Reinhardt
7. Mei
8. Zenyatta
9. Genji
10. Junkrat
11. Widowmaker

C) Heroes that feel awkward

12. Roadhog
13. Bastion
14. Tracer

D) Heroes I haven’t touched (incl. beta)

15. Reaper
16. Soldier 76
17. Zarya
18. McCree
19. Hanzo
20. Winston
21. D.VA

I doubt that I will ever be a good Reaper, McCree or Tracer. I don’t really seem to enjoy more traditional, up close gun classes much. It’s safe to say I’ll never become much of a sniper either; it feels like they’re missing all the action, loitering in the back all by themselves. I play for the chaos and shared laughs but am sure a great sniper has her moments! The tanks also don’t come naturally to me but I’ve enjoyed Reinhardt so far – Roadhog was just weird and not very pleasant a character. I hate getting hooked by this guy when I’m fighting against one, so I wonder if that’s behind my antagonism. Well, that and he sounds like a pig.

It will be interesting to revisit this post a few months down the line! If you’re on the fence of whether Overwatch is a game for you or not, I’ve shared some pointers over here!

Should you play Black Desert Online as a PvEr?

Important Update: some of the info in this post is outdated. Please see this update!

One of the lingering concerns from the final Black Desert Online beta is the very PvP-centric focus of the game. Given that we’re dealing with an MMO that comes with such a beautifully crafted world, complex gathering and crafting mechanics, interesting housing and farming features, horse taming, boat building and whatnot, it is understandable that there’s more than your average Darkfall crowd lining up for BDO. The biggest questions from PvErs are therefore twofold:

  • Can I turn off PvP mode for myself / will there be PvE servers?
  • What about classic PvE content, aka dungeons, quests, endgame..?

The first question is easily answered at this point: nope. While there are ramifications for player killing in BDO, once your first character hits level 50 (edited for correction: level 50 is not the level cap as BDO has none), you are available for PvP. There is no opt-out at the present time. This also extends to whatever alts you may create on the same account which will no longer benefit from any newbie moratorium. There is the misconception that “flagging yourself” for PvP in BDO means consensual PvP but that’s not in fact the case; flagging yourself is required to engage in PvP but it does not save anyone from being ganked whether they are flagged or not.

Now, from some of the replies I received to my early CBT2 impressions and also reading more related forum articles since, it appears that ever since the Korean launch PKing in BDO has been nerfed to a point where “it’s no longer fun for hardcore PVPers” due to hefty karma penalties. Indeed, there’s been a lot of  outcry over this. This may serve as some reassurance to all those who would like to try Black Desert without being continuously ganked by others; while you can be killed anywhere, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen an awful lot. BDO’s main PvP content is siege / arena / instanced PvP.


What about PvE servers and classic PvE content?

It is always tiresome to see how fast forum discussions on PvE servers get derailed and attacked by those who feel threatened by peaceful playstyles. Or rather that’s not what the PvP player fears: what he fears is the exodus of potential sheep for slaughter. PvP players know fully well that they are a minority. I guess from that point of view I understand their frustration – BDO was primarily developed with PvP in mind, so that audience considers it “their game”. Yet, it is simply a misconception that not having alternatives would mean everyone stays together. This is not the year 2000 where desperate MMO players stick around no matter their environment. These people will simply leave the game never to return. If you want outdoor PvP in any meaningful fashion in MMOs nowadays, it needs to be consensual while allowing everyone else to perform other roles. That said, for reasons already stated above I have my doubts PvE servers are even required.

Furthermore, it de facto doesn’t look like Pearl Abyss have any plans for PvE servers. In this, I believe some of the passionate PvP advocates on the official forums to be correct – it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to have PvE servers in a game with so little classic PvE content or endgame. It’s a sandbox MMO which is basically the opposite of getting themepark PvE content handed to you. And to drive this point home further, the developers have made it pretty clear in a very recent pre-release interview that they have no intention to turn BDO into a classic PvE game:

Q: Are there any plans to add instance based dungeons and or raids for end game PVE content?

A: Adventures and fierce guild wars in Black Desert are strongly established on an open-world system. Some special content might need to utilize an instance dungeon system, but we are not going to add a repetitive instanced dungeon, where the sole purpose is getting rewards.  Guild- and party-centric raids are already implemented in the game now, and we are developing more advanced kind of raid.

Q: Are there any plans to do epic quest lines for an in game reward. I.E. Extremely difficult quest lines that could take month+ to complete. Rewards could be unique high end weapons that have special characteristics, stats, or an extremely unique look.

A: No matter how hard a quest is, it can never deliver the same level of achievement or anticipation once it is cleared or a walkthrough is published. Most of the quests in the beginning stages of the game are simple and guiding, but as the player proceeds toward a later stage of the game, such as Valencia, desert and maritime quests demand long-distance travel and intense adventure. A quest in Black Desert should be an extension of the exploration of the in-game region, and can also assist players by making the exploration more convenient or helping with character growth.  However, we’d like to state that we do not prefer a type of quest that players feel obliged to complete, in order to become stronger or to gain rewards. Players should play freely and naturally in the game, and it is never fun to be pressed into doing something to get rewards. We do plan to add some difficult quests, but the estimated time of arrival is still not set.

I must admit, while I do not find outdoor PvP enjoyable personally (but I am willing to give it a shot based on everything I know), I love everything about the answers provided above. The devs have no intention to do what’s already been done to death elsewhere. If you want long questlines that everyone can go look up on a Wiki after two days, go elsewhere. If you want to repeat the same dungeons over and over for rewards, go elsewhere.

That’s not to say that there won’t be any types of repetitive grinds in Black Desert Online, I know there will be. But it sounds like there’s a clear vision behind this MMO and a decided focus on sandbox over PvE. And isn’t that what so many have kept asking for in the past? Personally, I look forward to see how things turn out. Should you play Black Desert Online as a PvEr? Let’s find out.

GW2: Will WvW be the next Alterac Valley?

I realized that my last two post titles were rhetorical questions both – time for a real one then.

All WoW PvP veterans would agree that the golden age of Alterac Valley lies in vanilla; when the battles between the horde and alliance would last for days, mighty allies would be summoned to the cause and the Field of Strife was soaked with the blood of countless enemies. Okay, there were actually a few who complained about the long duration and queues – but those are people who want to do quests in a BG and ninja-pull Drek’Thar. Through the ages, no other battleground in WoW has undergone so many traumatic changes; for players today the days of AV greatness remain but a distant memory or a sad legend told by their friends.

One of GW2’s possibly most alluring features is the epic World vs World PvP mode where hundreds(!) of players from three different servers will lay siege to one another on a large scale map. ArenaNet has announced that these type of conflicts can last up to two weeks, with only a few minutes of downtime in between battles to update the server rankings. Players of level 1-80 will be able to participate and join at any given time, anyone below max level will receive a level/stat boost to match a level 80 character. There are objectives for any type of play-style, from solo ventures to more coordinated mass assaults.

Does all this information not make your heart jump wildly in your chest?

With another press beta NDA lifted this week, we received another wave of GW2 echoes by the select and important. Me, I was only ears for the Massively article on WvW by Matt Daniel – a most exhilarating read. It is very hard not to feel incredibly pumped for GW2 PvP at this point! Just to highlight a few passages (you should really read the full article!) –

Let’s get one thing out of the way for the people with short attention spans: I had a blast. For quite some time I have lamented the lack of meaningful player-vs-player combat in modern MMOs. I’ve gotten tired of PvP being relegated to self-contained battlegrounds and arenas that have no impact on the greater world, and most attempts at world PvP tend either to flounder out once the majority of the population have leveled past the zone in which the PvP objectives are located or to become dominated by max-level characters to the exclusion of all others. Guild Wars 2‘s WvW solves this problem beautifully by…..
“I would have to say, however, that the absolute best part of my time in WvW was being involved in a fortress siege. Madness! Sweet, glorious havoc! Catapults fired everywhere while castle defenders rained hell from the battlements and the infantry of both sides duked it out in front of the keep’s gates. It was one of the most intense, edge-of-my-seat experiences I’ve had in quite some time, and I absolutely can’t wait to do it again.”

Madness and havoc! Two of my favorite PvP words!
And might we dare it? Might we hope to see the glory of old AV days return in Guild Wars 2?

Maybe it’s time to bring out our old battle standards. What say you, fellow PvP veterans?

Tol Barad, the second

Shortly after my post about the silly honor gains in Tol Barad of last week, Blizzard announced their hotfix for the outdoor PVP zone which has settled all outcries about servers win-trading swiftly and effectively. Winning an attack game now awards players 360 honor points, as opposed to the previous 1800 (a successful defense still awards 180 points) – a change of astronomic proportions which now makes many a player think, why oh why he didn’t play Tol Barad in its early weeks of Cataclysm.

Yet, not all is well in Tol Barad: the general disproportion in difficulty between winning an attack or a defense game persists, to many a PvPers dismay. I’ve had time to finally join a few more Tol Barad games this last weekend and I haven’t been in a single one that won an attack. Keeping your defense is substantially easier which is doubly frustrating, considering that the zone is not only about honor gains but more daily quests for tokens and the Baradin Hold instance. Where players did not care to defend before, they are now doing their very best to keep their keeps; so we have pretty much switched one extreme for the other.

In a most recent blue post by Cory Stockton, Blizzard assures players that the re-balancing of Tol Barad is far from over: they are aware of the attack game issue and are looking to fix this in a future patch. What’s more revealing about the article, are the comments on how Blizzard have tried to learn from past mistakes of WotLK’s Wintergrasp and what their intentions for Tol Barad were initially, when designing the new outdoor PvP Zone –

Tol Barad is intentionally balanced so that it’s a challenge for the attackers, because we want to make sure that control of Tol Barad matters. For the defenders, there’s a sense of urgency that Wintergrasp didn’t have — if you lose it, you’re going to have a hell of a time taking it back. For the attackers, there are a number of rewards at stake — such as access to the Baradin Hold raid and additional daily quests — that we hope players feel are worth fighting for. That sort of tension is what we wanted from Wintergrasp, and what we believe Tol Barad can ultimately offer.

While the devs’ initial realization of this has failed, it is clear that they were looking to give the battle for victory a much greater meaning by adding more incentives to play well via the big honor difference, and also balancing the games in terms of player slots. I salute Blizzard’s decision to make attacking a challenge of consequence. Wintergrasp was never a meaningful, let alone epic place by any standard; if you lost a game, who cared? You would get a win sooner or later – the only time I was ever annoyed to be denied access to Wintegrasp was when I wanted to go buy some PvP gems or enchants.

This time around, Blizzard wants to add more meaning to conflict. And: they want a lot more people to join in. While you can decide to quest on the northern half of Tol Barad island exclusively in order to get your Baradin Wardens reputation and rewards, conquering the southern map is a considerable speed bonus for PvPers and PvErs alike. The reputation vendor sells a variety of special items (from vanity baubles such as a companion pet and two mounts, to useful blue items and epic trinkets) to attract a wide range of WoW players. There is also the commendation to convert extra tokens to more reputation, which means the more daily quests you can do, the faster your way to exalted and epic rewards (which all require to be bought by tokens too).

I absolutely love the look of the Drake of the West Wind (it looks a lot better live than on pictures) and I will obviously have to get the seagull. Apart from that the trinkets are actually quite nice, especially if you have no immediate access to epic raid loot (the healer trinket has been announced to receive a slight buff soon).

All things considered, I look forward to Tol Barad receiving another patch asap, as confirmed in the blue post and that they will find the right way to balance a battle which can be a great dilemma to balance.
And I also have high hopes that this time around Blizzard’s new PvP Zone will encourage a much greater player base to join in and fight more meaningful battles, rather than being “for them odd PvPers only”.

When losing is winning. Or: don’t blame players for Tol Barad

Only a few weeks into the expansion, factions on many servers have started to engage into “win-trading” for the honor gains in Tol Barad, Blizzard’s latest outdoor PVP zone equivalent of Wintergrasp. To give complete newcomers some background: the theoretical aim of the zone is to conquer 3 keeps and then, to hold at least one of them as defender through the consecutive rounds (games happen every 2 hours) or re-conquer them as the attacker. Now the horde and alliance have struck a deal which is to alternate between winning and losing, or to put it briefly: never bothering to defend after a win.

– Why is that, you ask?

Simply put it’s because that strategy is the most rewarding for players. A large part of PvP, just like a large part of farming the same heroic for the 20th time, are rewards. Yeah there’s the fun of playing with a team and being successful, but erm….rewards! For many or probably most gamers epics/gear/rewards translate into win. You get loot for killing a boss, not for letting him live. In PvP winning and gaining as much honor as you can is (or should be) identical. So if you want to gain as much honor as possible, what you need to do in TB is losing on purpose, every second game. To lose is to win here.

– How can that be, you ask?

Blizzard designed the honor gains in such a way that attacking gives a lot more honor than a successful defense. So much more in fact (10 times to be exact), that there is basically no incentive at all for players to defend, except for “teh fame and glory”. We know how well that one works…
This difference in honor gain is a result of attacking (claiming 3 keeps) being a lot harder than defending just one base. And while that might contain some “realism” (besieging is harder than defending), it opens a whole can of worms in this case.

Players want to attack as often as they can, so their strategy makes a lot of sense: lose your defense, so you can win more attacks. Anyone looking to optimize and with a minimum of mathematical skills would choose this strategy. The issue are not the players: Losing should never be profitable – the system should make you want to win in every case.

I. When failed game design is an exploit

According to Blizzard such “win-trading” is of course and exploit and against the rules. Now I’m a bit of a free spirit maybe, but I don’t call taking the logic road and making a strategic decision a game offers you, an exploit. To me, abuse suggests players making use of some kind of glitch or bug in game design that is there by error. Be it that you climb up a cliff you shouldn’t be able to climb in Alterac Valley because it gives you a fatal advantage, be it that you use levitate in order to cheat the fire in Crusaders’ Coliseum. That’s cheating and doing so knowingly or unknowingly usually matters not (hai there, Ensidia).

What we basically have in Tol Barad is similar to the situation we had through almost all of WotLK: “let’s lose fast”-mentality in battlegrounds. And while I didn’t like that one bit, the truth is that Blizzard made losing too profitable. And I can see where they’re coming from: obviously a lot of BG pugs are from hell and not getting any rewards for losing would seriously put many players off. Oh the whining. We cant have that, so here’s some welfare points.
And that’s why Blizzard gave losers a bit of a reward, enough to keep them going and sadly also to make them wanna lose fast. That issue was never handled like an abuse though, in fact the whole system encouraged it. Only at the very end of WotLK did they finally make losing hurt enough for people wanting to win and not sabotaging BGs anymore (although I guess they still did, there’s no fix for stupid).

Tol Barad, while being a different case, is indirectly suffering from the same effect. Worse still: alternating between wins and losses is the most profitable way to go (because you can’t win attacks several times in a row). How much sense does that make to you? I see a football team before me that gets paid more for losing every second game than bothering to win. If losing on purpose has such clear advantages, losing becomes a legitimate choice. The big difference here is only that players aren’t deciding this in BG-chat, they’re doing so openly on the forums.

Of course you can say now “but it’s illegal, Blizzard hath spoketh” and that’s right. Works just great too, “because I said so” has always been a really powerful argument in a debate. Fear of ban makes for instant insight? Not only can you not control or prove players losing on purpose, it’s a lot of fuss over something incredibly easy to fix. And yeah I’ve read the EULA – does that mean we can’t reason anymore?

After the same logic, anyone in an Alterac Valley or any other battleground, who is standing around chatting, goes to grab a drink during respawn time or stops trying half-way through, is sabotaging the point of the game. Does that make him an exploiter, strictly speaking? What if he has a clear gain from losing? Do we have a moral obligation to win or at least try to win?

II. Blame not – fix! Possible solutions for the unholy alliance

Just so I’ve clarified my personal view: I’m no fan of win-trading and I’ve detested BG sabotage with a passion for years. I want to play PvP properly and get rewards for winning and playing cooperatively (with my own faction), not for losing. I have in fact not had time to partake in more than a single TB game so far which lasted 3 minutes before it was lost. I also don’t condone deliberate exploiting in MMOs.

In Tol Barad’s case however, players are making the most practical choice in order to optimize honor gains and that choice is there by design. Blaming players to play a system that makes no sense to their advantage, makes no sense. If you design a game that nobody wants to win, you fail at designing. Nobody wants to win a TB defense game, only an attack game. So for me, the responsibility lies with Blizzard here: they need to fix this non-sense. I am frankly also a little baffled that they wouldn’t have foreseen this during the months of Cataclysm testing, but maybe they have simply under-estimated the level of cooperation servers are capable of, which Spinks so aptly calls the “miracle of Tol Barad”.

So, how to fix this? Few ideas:

  • Harmonize the required effort of attacking and defending. Why does the defender only need to defend one base when attacking requires three? 
  • Harmonize the honor gains alongside with the requirements; attack and defense should both be profitable. If anything, make the reward for a successful defense slightly higher in order to encourage players to keep ownership. This would make thoughts of win-trading obsolete.
  • Abandon the whole re-claiming concept and reset status before every new game. Maybe a more extreme change, but why does there always need to be the defense part? Make both factions go for the same attack game each round.

In a way, all of this reminds me oddly of Ghostcrawler’s commentary on abandoning the 5-second-rule for mana regen in Cataclysm, which can be roughly summarized as: “it makes no sense to reward and motivate healers to stand around and do nothing”. Exactly! There should be no reward for not playing!

Tol Barad, even if not designed to be played that way, indirectly encourages doing nothing. Or rather: Tol Barad rewards cross-faction cooperation more than conflict at the moment. All it takes for this to change are a few small fixes. We’ll see what happens next.

How to track down an Orc mage

I guess most of you have had some guild achievements flashing up on your screen the past weeks since Cataclysm launched and maybe you’ve shared my feeling of “wut? what happened there?”, followed by trying to find out who did what exactly and what reward the guild might have got.

The new guild perks system is a double-edged blade: not only due to the guild size issue, but overall it feels very underwhelming to see flashy pop-ups coming up ever so often, without having been part of anything – frankly the guild part of the achievement is lost on me there. I know I’m not alone in this, many guildies feel excluded when one, dedicated “achievement hunting team” goes out on the very first days of the expansion to get as many guild achievements as possible and while the rewards are for everybody, it doesn’t feel like a group effort at all.
That said, I don’t nearly care enough about achievements to whine about it and most of them don’t come with noticeable rewards either (the really big part is guild ranks and mass effort achis), but I simply don’t think Blizzard implemented the system very well.

I’ve only just started to explore the new guild tab in the achievement window a few days ago, mostly to check which of them actually come with something useful. Now, as a pet collector I’d love to get the Armadillo Pup, but that one is far away still with our 10k kills out of 50k total. We’re not the biggest guild and I also suspect there’s a natural resistance in many to go and hunt down fluffy bunnies and squirrels! For those among you, here’s a little motivator.

Tracking down the elusive orc mage

Killing horde on the other hand – works fine for most. I’m certainly not shy to PvP and I always enjoyed the achievements that require you to hunt down certain class-race combinations in WoW, either to slay them or put bunny ears on their heads or whatever (see how there is darkness and light inside me!). As a priest especially, you’ve got awesome tools for this kind of mission. So, when I realized that all our guild was missing for the Horde Slayer Achievement was an orc mage, I decided to have a look around AV – it couldn’t be so hard, surely…

…Riiight! Apparently orc mages are the least popular class-race combination ever on horde side. I’m not sure why that is, whether it’s racials or the fact that orcs are generally associated with being “brutes”, so not exactly the educated smart or spiritual kind. The WoW census is rather clear on this: counting all EU servers together a baffling 2%-3% of all horde mages are orcs, already less than there are goblin mages. That’s even worse than the percentage of dwarf rogues on alliance side – honestly, would you rather see an orc in cloth or a hairy dwarf in leather? Anyway.

It took me several nights to finally spot an orc mage in AV and I gotta say, I felt a little sorry for the guy! Having your face on a wanted poster all over an entire battlegroup – NOT FUN! Bad times for orc mages. But then, the system is enforcing this really, because you can’t get the achievement done by killing anything less than a lvl 85, so arranging for an alternative of your own quickly isn’t an option.

Well then, if you happen to be a priest and are looking to do this guild achievement, here’s how to do it the BG way (and I promise you won’t have to PvP any more than absolutely needed):

  • Queue for an AV and once inside, browse the BG chart to check whether there are any orc mages in. If not and you absolutely hate to PvP, /afk out and repeat in 15mins.
  • Once you’ve spotted your orcish friend, create a /target + name macro to make sure you spot him right away on the battlefield.
  • Follow the main rush and stay in midfield on Field of Strife. This is where most alliance and horde cross in the beginning and there’s a very high chance your orc mage will be among them. Spam your target-macro at all times.
  • Once you got your target, follow the horde rush at a distance and try to spot the player to see where he’s going. It might prove tricky, so what you want to do now is to retreat to a safe spot quickly and throw a mindvision before you’ve lost him. 
  • After you’ve located him, track him down and keep a focus on him to see whether he’s already in combat, winning or dying (in which case he will release at the closest horde GY). Throwing a DoT is enough to get the kill count if he’s already battling someone else. If you have to take him on 1vs1, good luck!

I was lucky because in my case the orc mage was on his way to Stonehearth Bunker and already engaged in a flag fight when I arrived. He was at 50% health and too surprised at my arrival to react, so a quick Penance and SW:Death finished the job. And I realize just how this sounds – I’m really sorry Dag-something, Blizzard made me do it!

On the bright side, we got the guild achievement and with it comes the Guild Page companion which is actually quite useful for non-collectors too: it’s your very own mobile vendor and allows you to clear all the trash from your bags during questing which is rather handy at the moment. Unfortunately he only lasts for 5 mins and is on an 8 hour cooldown, just like the other guild vendor items……/facepalm

Anyway, should you get tired of questing or heroics sometime, give PvP achievements a go, they’re actually a fun distraction and you do not need a PvP kit either to get them, especially in AV. The tracking tactic obviously works for any class-race combination you might be after. For the Alliance – For the Horde! Enjoy your weekend and a happy New Year from Raging Monkeys everybody!

This is Halloween, this is Halloween (again)

“It is over, your search is done! Let fate choose now, the righteous one!”

That’s right, the Hallow’s End is taking another round in WoW from this week on, with the same old quests and mobs to farm in order to get minipets and special mounts – if the event isn’t bugging out on you, that is. And once more I find myself wondering if Blizzard will ever bother to update the seasonals because really, it is only fun so many times…Are we going to see the same quests and rewards again in Cataclysm? I hope not!

As you might have noticed if you aren’t accessing this page by reader only, the header of Raging Monkeys has been slightly re-decorated in honor of this great holiday and also, because we really love to dress up – or rather I do and it’s not like the other two can do anything about it! =D Squirrel has withdrawn to live inside a jack-O-lantern for the time being, until hibernation time anyway.

It’s been a busy week full of srs bsns, buggy patches to discuss and new skills to analyze, so it’s high time for another Frivolous Friday topic, before we’ve entirely ruined our blog’s reputation by appearing way too serious and ..informative!

My PVP Pit

I’ve already mentioned in my last post how baffling some of the bugs and imbalances in battlegrounds are at the moment, it’s really not a good time to start PVPing if you’re currently contemplating the option. Nonetheless I am quite a passionate PVPer in WoW, at least as much as times allows me to besides raiding, so when I saw Zelmaru’s call to join the Bee Pit Bingo, I was instantly tempted to contribute with a PVP card of my own.

In case you don’t know what the Bee Pit is about, be sure to visit the page and have a look around – you have probably tossed a lot of players into the pit yourself in the past without knowing!
I have quite some player disdain to share in WoW, I could’ve easily created another PVE card, but there’s so many BG annoyances I have accumulated over the past years that it was great fun to think about my personal tops there. So here’s my contribution, if you’re frequently pvping yourself I’m sure you will know them all too well!

Make sure to check out the other fabulous Bee Pit Bingo cards currently up @ Murloc Parliament. And as always a good weekend everybody!

I wish we could be friends

The other night, I found myself dancing frivolously next to a Tauren at the Eventide bank in Dalaran, laughing and cheering. Obviously we were both bored out of our wits, which happens more frequently to players these days, and as we were both wearing our special pre-Cata event costumes it seemed like a fun thing to do. At this occasion I’d like to say once more that the Darkspear Pride is possibly a million times cooler than the Gnomeregan one. Yeah I know, I chose the wrong faction.

That little, silly intermezzo lasted 5 minutes before the Tauren warrior /waved a goodbye at me, disappearing. And I couldn’t help but feel a little sad about the fact that the Alliance and Horde are doomed to never be able to communicate or interact any more in WoW than in such fleeting moments and gestures. I never felt that Blizzard did a particularly great job with their faction model and the language barrier is one big part of that. So I’m supposed to hate the Horde, I got that….wait, why is that again?

Good vs. Evil in MMOs

Unlike Ferrel from Epic Slant I don’t believe that division is a bad thing in MMOs; I think we both agree though that it is mainly about how you approach such division in games. I’m all for a little conflict and I believe there’s a lot of potential in implementing opposing factions of “good” and “evil” in a game – it’s a driving force of the fantasy genre after all. However, the way Blizzard tried to manage this in World of Warcraft is one of the great examples of how not to do it. I was always baffled at the parallel society the Horde and Alliance form in the game, with hardly any interaction besides some forced outdoor PVP zones, battlegrounds and arenas and no relevant impact whatsoever on the world we all play in. I don’t think most of us care whether our enemy in a BG is horde or alliance at this point and that kinda proves my point.

If you want to include the element of ethos in a game, you need to establish things like freedom of choice, consequence and impact. Players should become good or evil, because they choose to play the game in a certain way, taking different paths that will impact on the world they play in and on their own character’s development as a whole. Fable has managed this in a rather nice way in 2004, whereby every player starts the same way and chooses his own path from there. Your character’s playstyle will influence future choices, quests and even your looks will adapt to how you play. The world around you will offer different options and consequences depending on whether you’re of noble or foul spirit.

All that WoW does for me on the other hand, is say “here’s a Tauren, now hate him” – without any immediate motivation or reason for me to do so. It’s actually quite racist if you think about it: I’m supposed to hate another player not because he did something evil in my time, but because somebody else tells me so or because it’s written in some old lore of the game. I’m not sure I want to play a dickhead like that to be honest (which the Alliance already appears to be according to WoW lore).

If you want players to pursue each other with a passion and fuel the fire of conflict in your game, there needs to be a clear and immediate motivation for that. This you can only achieve by letting all players, independant of more cosmetic factors like race, choose how to play the game and installing different paths, rewards and restrictions from there accordingly. In Ultima Online for example, the game would flag players gone rogue in different colors (for example after killing other players) for a set duration, depending on which your options in the game would change. Entire guilds would be created around protecting yourself from criminals on whom you could set bounties in cities. Criminals would in return form bands and while the game would punish them (for they would be pursued by city guards), there was still incentives to go red, for example lootwise.

PVP is not the only option

I think UO showed one of the more “authentic” and open approaches to conflict in a fantasy MMO; there were regulations but there was still a lot of freedom of choice and the element of chaos. Most will agree that this is preferable to pure racial conflict whereby enemies cannot even communicate. Stark images of trying to talk to my cats come to mind when gestures and sounds are all I have to communicate with the Horde. And I have a very hard time hating animals.

Even if you loathe any form of PVP action in online games, there are better ways to manage conflict than how we’ve seen it done in WoW so far. The problem with places like Halaa in Nagrand for example, was that nobody actually cares that much to capture the place repeatedly.

We need choices for good and evil in a game, incentives and rewards and we need them to impact on the world we play in. If I’m supposed to hate or fear somebody, it should be because he did something to deserve that – dancing in front of a bank with me, even dancing badly, doesn’t exactly qualify.

I don’t know what future MMOs will do about ingame conflict but I’m looking forward to new concepts.